Monday, December 14, 2009

Featured Poet #4

Seven Poems From Scott Owens

One Man’s Trash

Who would have ever thought
I’d pay for them. Growing up
near Sanford, breezy autumn days
welcome relief from summer heat,
we raked them from our yard to burn
with other unwanted things,
igniting childhood pleasure as orange
flames erupted from orange piles.
No one minded the big leaves
of oak or maple, but these too thin
to catch in the tines of metal rakes
were hated by all, and if left there,
they made the ground too slippery
for running, made grass impossible.

Now, needing the impossibility
of grass, I hand over $3.75
per bale to put down the baleful
things around trees and garden,
protect the wooden walls of house,
and show once and for all

the absolute relativity of value.


He never ran with us at practice,
counted laps, hit flies
with one hand, threw batting practice
without a glove, fielding anything
he didn’t have to bend over to get.

In games he stood on one baseline
or the other, middle-aged paunch
tightening only to yell, “Run,”
“Pick your pitch,” “Eyes on the ball.”

He wore a camelback beneath
his Dodger jacket, sucked the tube-end
between innings, after strikeouts,
errors, botched double plays.

Nobody knew where he came from,
whose relative he was. Not the kind
anyone was likely to claim. He seemed
mostly to belong to the field itself,
a fifth base, a spirit of baseball.

He taught us everything we knew
about the game and some things about life,
picking up the spin of the ball,
going for the extra base, using
both hands on every catch,
how to push the voices into corners,
use your relays , know the count
and the number of outs, how to keep

the bases filled, the bottle hidden.

Instructor’s Manual 2009

In case of emergency, do not panic.
If you don’t stay calm the phones
in every room will scream out alarm.
Do not incite panic in others.
Do not endanger yourself to help others.
Do not use the elevator or cellphones
(known to detonate bombs).
Do not attempt to flee
as you may block traffic.
Do not walk alone.
Do not get in the car.
Break glass, aim at the base, and pull trigger.
Do not attempt to disarm.
Do not speak unless spoken to.
Do not make the attacker feel stupid,
ashamed or otherwise insecure.
Do not stare.
Do not look into the attacker’s eyes.
Do not talk down to him
or speculate on outcomes or causes
or how he feels about his mother.
Avoid argument.
Avert temptation.
Request identification.
Do not leave those who are suicidal alone.
Do not attempt to play therapist or priest.
Do not attempt to convert, exorcise, or revive
unless properly trained.
Do not put your hands in blood or vomit.
Do not attempt to clean up a spill.
Do not touch the suspicious package.
Do not remove writing on the wall.
Stay away from windows.
Avoid flying debris.
Assume the fetal position
and hide beneath the heavy desk.
Do not turn on or off the lights,
light matches or use computers.
Do not open the door.
Do not attempt to retrieve valuables.
Do not lose this manual.
Do not leave this manual where those
who might wish us harm could find it.
Do not write poems in this manual.
If you survive and seek publication,
do not mention the school
or the writers of this manual,

and change the names to protect yourself.

Smells Like a Man

Do you have a body that sweats,
sweat that has odor,
odor that smells,
smells like a man?

Do you want to change
what you are,
what you were,
what you were
meant to be?
Do you want to be
something more
or less than you are,
something more
or less than you were,
something more
or less than you were
meant to be,
something more
or less than human
wanting to be something more
or less than this?

Do you want to be
the perfect semblance
of something human
that never smells
like something human,
or always smells
like powder,
like cool rush,
like desert spice,
like something human
always smelling
like powder,
like cool rush,
like something
not quite as bad
as something human?

Do you want a body
like this one,
like that one,
like almost anyone
except your own,
a body that’s perfect,
the perfect semblance
of something human
without the flaws
of something human?
Do you want a body
big in all the right
places, so big
in all the right places
that someone thinks
it’s perfect,
so perfect
that someone thinks
they shouldn’t touch it,
that someone thinks
they might leave smudges
in its perfection
or cause it to sweat,
sweat that has odor,
odor that smells,
smells like a man?


In my grandma’s world view
there were only six kinds of birds,
most simply named by color:
bluebird and yellowbird, blackbird
and brown, redbird and buzzard.

When I asked her about the birds
I’d seen that were purple or green
or orange, she said anyone
who looked at birds that close
had too much time on their hands.

An accidental conservationist,
she was just as frugal with containers
as she was with words, every glass
a jelly jar, bread bags and coffee cans,
foil and feedsacks always emptied
and saved, rinsed out and reused.

At meals, too, little was wasted.
We ate the sweetbreads of animals,
the fancy parts, livers and hearts
ground or fried, pressed into loaves
and baked. Even chicken bones
were crushed and buried in the garden.

All scraps were saved for the dogs,
scraped into the bowl by the sink
and set out at dusk. Only eggshells,
corn husks, potato skins were thrown
over the fence for cows and chickens
or any of the six birds she named.

She never bought a new piece of furniture.
Everything, she said, could be repaired
or covered. She used the same beds
her family had owned before her, and we slept
two boys each in two single beds,
back to back and feet to head.

Clothes, too, were passed from one
generation to the next. Hand-me-downs
never so worn they couldn’t be mended
or patched or at last stitched into quilts
whose squares felt as familiar

as anything saved from oblivion.


How is it possible I still remember
the green shirt Frank Ellis wore
the day he pushed me down on the playground
in first grade and then, with Everett Jackson
in his orange tee with a brown collar
sitting on my back, proceeded to scoop
handfuls of dirt in my mouth without
remembering why Frank disliked me so?

Was it that I was poor, and he
was frightened by the mere proximity
of such poverty, that Mrs. Olson
liked me better than him, that I knew
my alphabet, my left from right,
could count to a hundred, and read
stories he could only stare at?

Did he really care that the shirt
I wore, simple, pale blue oxford
with a stiff collar, still too big
for me, had once been his,
taken from the poor box
in Ms. McCabe’s office?

I still remember Blake Elementary School,
the color of bricks, playground,
chain-link fence, children desperate
for hope, a place given to easy wounds,

this one the one thing I never remember.

Work of Art

The potter’s shoes are molded
through labor, baked on
in the heat of creating, splattered
with unformed parts of pots
and vases, plates and cups,
the living pieces of earth
he rubs from mud and clay,
magically pulling shapes
from his open hand, pinching
art in his fingertips,
pressing their bodies in his palm
casting his pulse
and the wheel’s pulse

into new beings of fire.

Biography Note:

Scott Owens has received awards from the North Carolina Poetry Society, the North Carolina Writer’s Network, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina for his four collections of poetry and more than 400 poems published in various journals and anthologies. He is co-editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, Chair of the Sam Ragan Poetry Prize, author of “Musings” (a weekly poetry column), and founder of Poetry Hickory. He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.

Q @ A with Scott Owens

CH: How long have you been writing and why did you start in the first place?

SO: That's a tougher question than it might appear. I first wrote poems in grade school as a way of getting positive attention from my mom and teachers. They were, of course, horrible poems, very derivative, imitative, cliched and predictable. Then sometime during my late teen years I started writing darker poems that cautiously revealed some of the uglier details of my childhood. I didn't show those to anyone, but they helped me move out of pure imitation in poetry, and I wrote more in that style throughout college and up to the publication of my first book, The Persistence of Faith in 1993. Shortly after that, the reality of needing a consistent paycheck led me to stop writing for about a dozen years. I started back just two and a half years ago when my daughter started going to school in the mornings. So I guess I'd say I started in high school, around 1980, but I've only actually been writing for about 15 years. As for why, initially for the pats on the back, later because I needed to get some things "out," and now because when I'm not writing I just don't feel very satisfied.

CH: Who or what were your inspirations?

SO: Obviously, that is something that changes as a writer changes, but my first role model in poetry remains one of my current role models. I've always admired Robert Frost's work, and while I wouldn't say I emulate his style any longer, I do still hear occasional echoes in my work, and I'll probably always identify with his perspective on place and human existence. The next great teacher for me was Galway Kinnell. I still consider his "Book of Nightmares" the greatest book of poetry ever. A poem I wrote just the other day, in fact, began with a line from his poem "Little Sleep's Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight." And I suppose my third vital influence was and is Donald Hall. His theories on organic form helped me find a range of voices that I've become quite happy with. And, of course, there is a laundry list of others whose work has inspired and influenced me in various ways, going all the way back to Donne, Browning, Keats, Whitman, Housman, Hopkins, Williams, Stevens, Baudelaire, Berryman, Roethke, Creeley, Plath and Sexton, Wendell Berry, Tim Peeler, and a number of international writers including Yehuda Amichai, Yannis Ritsos, Neruda, Cavafy, Seferis, and Robert Desnos.

CH: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?

SO: Two things, and to some degree they're the same thing. Time and keeping one's mind relaxed enough and undistracted enough to allow a complex series of associations to play out and actually attend to that play well enough to get it down on paper. There is a sort of zone I enter when I'm writing successfully. I'll think of a line or image or idea that will stick in my head, and as I go though my day or several days, that germinal element seems to collect other elements from memory, experience, perception, history, literature, wherever, and all those things that were not consciously tied up into one thought before become so. It's tough to stay in that zone when you get up running to get everything else done and never get the 2 to 3 hours needed to just sort of immerse yourself into an open state of mind that lets things happen.

CH: What advice would you give to a new writer who is struggling to find his or her identity?

SO: Read and write, Read and write, Read and write some more. Immersing oneself in language is probably the best way to help things that use language to start happening. At the same time, I would say achieve some balance. Ivory tower writing is often pointless. If you work 8 hours a day, sleep 8 hours a day, spend 4 hours of quality time with your loved ones, and 1 hour taking care of yourself (food, bills, travel, email, etc.), that still leaves 2 hours a day to read and another hour to write. And finally, I would say be patient. During my first career as a writer, the roughly 7 years in the late 80s and early 90s, I labored over every poem. Then after a 12 year hiatus, things seemed so much easier. So, if you think it's meaningful to you that you write, then I'd say just keep doing it and eventually you'll likely hit your stride.

End of Interview


Monday, November 30, 2009

Issue #11

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

Jerusalem is your holy land but not mine

I’m old enough to remember
when they were still putting out music
on cassettes
I’m even old enough to remember vinyl
and Dawn Wells in Gilligan’s Island reruns
back then
there was hope in the world
at least for most people
before America’s endless wars
and global economic crises
now I’ve given up trying
just lie on the couch all day
while the spiders wrap their victims
in the corners
I’ve given up on sunsets and rainbows
and basic human decency
just waiting for the monster
with the body of a lion
the head of a rat
and darkness pouring from its eyes.

yellow eyes

my head dripping sweat
on the desk
my mind dripping
green bile
the nightmare flies
and the worms of my heart
maybe there’s other
lonely insane people who suffer
as much as I do
and I’m sure they’re all poets
I’m still fighting the Turks
kill the lights cuz
the Russians are coming
heed America’s
national paranoia doctrine
or they’ll throw you in prison
without trial
I’m a crazy person in a land
of loonies
feeling right at home.

Biography Note:

Ross Vassilev was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Ohio. He's a poet and the editor of Opium Poetry 2.0 ( and Asphodel Madness ( blogzines. He's been published here and there.

A.J. Kaufmann

My old lines – mistakes
My new ones – routine
Where’s the man I’ve been looking for
His machine

Where’s the burden, the ghost
The begging scrawl of years
Bowl of rice, the guest
Lines austere
Lonely lantern Annie
Silver on her breast
Songs of the sunken streetlight
Oceans, regret

My poem sleeps alone
Half-done, half-dead
The singer bows to the writer
Where’s the music,
The sincere, the jazz

Where’s the river, has it changed
City, remote heart attack
Tent of stars, minor concert
Yet another autograph
Is it me behind the glasses
Am I there

Why hide
I haven’t written for ages
Just collected, walked on by
My old lines – more mistakes
My new ones – not worthwhile
Winter – overwhelming
Prisons open wide
Wisdom crawls the gutter
Jokers ride the sky

Biography Note:

A.J. Kaufmann, born June 24 1989 is a poet, songwriter and traveler currently living in Poland. He's the author of "Siva in Rags", "I'm Already Not Here", "Pilgrims & Indians" and other poetry chapbooks. He can be found online at and /or at

Two Poems by Eric Miller

Coke Bottle Glasses

“How’s that?,” the optometrist
asked, as he slipped my new
glasses on.

“Spectacular,” I replied, despite
being worried that I would be
making a spectacle of myself
wearing these new coke bottle

But as I walked out of his door and
into the world, which had previously
been a blur to me, the curtain rose,
the music started, and I took my seat
to enjoy the spectacle of life, for which
I must admit I was delighted to have a

White Highways

From a hammock slung
between two leafless
trees, I stared at
contrails in the sky

Although they were
ice crystals formed by
planes flying through
freezing cold air, they
blanketed me in warmth

The white inked sky
spoke words of mythic
Greek and Roman gods,
mapping undiscovered
thoughts which carried
me to a place called
Slumber, located far
from white highways
in a special place
between two leafless

Biography Note:

Eric Miller is a retired dentist who has laid down his drill for a quill. His stories and poems number more than a mouth full of teeth and appear in many different publications.

Living on an Island
Alice Folkart

There we are, on the map,
that little green splatz
almost lost in endless
Mercator blue, longitude
and latitude with attitude
gliding right by.

Say "Hi!"
to the continent
when you get there.

The trade winds died
from an overdose of something,
and the weather lies gloomy,
gray, even greasy-dark upon us.
No end in sight, not even night
to promise cool.

When it's like this,
you can't see nothing much
whether you're looking out to sea
searching for the horizon,
the tightrope to a dream,
or at a map book or a globe.

All you'll see is a bumpy plain
oozing out across space
like the skin on rapidly-cooling oatmeal
that ain't going to be any good if you don't eat it now.

Biography Note:

Alice Folkart lives and writes on the island of Oahu. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of Internet literary journals and print publications.

Kenneth P. Gurney

This not knowing
my child,
this fear of shadows
in the dark.

In the spaces between
letters typed
the dead hold their breath,
hope for a speaker.

The colored light
remains an hour away
from emerging
out of the blackness.

The dead who visit me,
like the alarm clock,
fade like the ground fog
as the sun rises
and work begins.

Biography Note:

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His work appears mostly on the web as he spends SASE & reading fee monies on flowers for his lover. To learn more, visit

Doug Mathewson

Unexpected early dismissal from jury duty
left me on my own
midday midweek midtown
used book store cafe near the court drew me in
juror parking was free so I still had ten bucks
clerk with race-car tattoos and vertical hair took my six of my dollars
for a poetry book and a scone
scone was pear and almonds
book was Richard Garcia
both were great
reading and eating in a sunny spot
playing out my own alternate lives
with sailor me lost at sea
when cowboy me moved to town
disco me died too young
astronaut me who never took off
royal me without a throne
monastic me who suffered alone
the afternoon was passing
time to head home
the evening was still open
for us to decide who to be.

Biography Note:

Doug Mathewson is an editor and writer of short fiction who lives on Connecticut's eastern shore. He is editor of Blink-Ink, a contributing editor @ MUST, a photographer, and environmental artist. Most recently his work has been published by The Boston Literary Magazine, The Binnacle, Callused Hands, e-Muse, Full of Crow, Right Hand Pointing, riverbabble, and Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k). His somewhat more episodic fiction True Stories From Imaginary Lives is available at

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Issue #10

Two Poems by J.S. MacLean


It hides behind dusty colors
in antique shops and peeks
over hedgerows
just after high summer.
You can see it in faces
if you first focus
at a point far behind.
It is in the mirror
poking through hair
that’s been spent
like breadcrumbs
on a one way trail.

The hands of a friend
remind you of a parent.
There are no old people anymore,
once simple gardens are overgrown
and green.

The Caregiver

She cradles the dry leaves,
anointing them gently
so they don’t crumble
too soon,
touches the sprouts
misshapen by frost,
warming them open.

Hand, eye, muscle,
and memory
for the failing,
a heart
for the alone.

Holder of the names
of hidden ones,
doer of
private things,
a target, sometimes.

beyond glossy faces,
beyond pounding buds,
not an angel or a star,

she curves her arms
against the tide,
around those love words
in the sand.

Biography Note:

J.S. MacLean lives in Calgary Alberta. His work has appeared in such places as ditch, Why Vandalism? Battered Suitcase, Soundzine, The Toronto Quarterly, and various others. In 2007 he won first place in poetry in THIS Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt. In his spare time he wears various hats on the staff of a new online journal, The Triggerfish Critical Review.

Salvatore Buttaci

blood-puddled war
sets landmines
with a twinkle
in its stormy eye
because it knows
the march of soldiers
how they tramp
on mud and green
under which one day
they finally rest
and so it goes
the kaleidoscope
of battles
of weak treaties
of time’s
brutal hands
oh, beware, beware
the rustling leaves
in placid gardens
the howling wolf
stretching its snarl
to bite
the solicitous moon

Biography Note:

Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer who plies his craft daily. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Cats Magazine, and Christian Science Monitor. He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007. Buttaci lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.

I Still Sit By The Water
Mike Meraz

when I was 13 I would
sit by the water
and wonder what would become
of my life.

at 22 I would sit by the water
and wonder what I was going to do
with my life.

now at 38
I lay in bed and realize
water is pointless
yet there is something in me
that wants to get up
head to the Mississippi and watch
the boats go by, it is not the water
that matters so much, but a large space
of calmness, something to aspire to,
something that is traveled on, enjoyed
and breeds life.

I still sit by the water.

Biography Note:

Mike Meraz is a poet from Los Angeles who currently lives in New Orleans. He is the author of two books of poetry “Black-Listed Poems” and “All Beautiful Things Travel Alone.” Both are available at and He is also the editor of Black-Listed Magazine.

Lady of the tide-
Loren Fay

She sits beside the moons twilight
& changes your quiet thoughts.
She holds on to your cherished
life & moves within the perfect tide.
Swift as the current is wide
& as beautiful of an eve as tonight.
Swirling your arrogance
to sooth your exulting intuition.
She is the harbor of vessels
& the lady of great virtue.
Switch about your foolish pride
& come to attention at her side.

Biography Note:

Loren Fay is currently a college student at St. Petersburg College in Florida. She is working on her Bachelors’ degree, majoring in Space Research, and minoring in Creative Writing and Poetics. She has been published numerous times in local news papers and literary magazines. She wants to become a Missions Specialist at the Kennedy Space Center at NASA. She is currently writing a fiction novel (which is under secrete knowledge about its content). Follow her fan page on Facebook at Loren Fay (the writer). Check out her blog at

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I shook his wrinkled hand.
His angry wink stared me
down. I shook his hand and
he killed me with his eyes.

Down the stairs I tumbled
like an old man without
balance. Perhaps I was
cursed by the old man’s stare.

I had an old wrinkled
hand and the old man’s stare.
He was me and I was
he. My angry eyes looked

long and far for the old
man. I wanted to kill
him. I wanted my old
hands and my old eyes back.

Biography Note:

Luis works in the mental health field in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Mexico. His latest chapbook, Overcome, was published by Kendra Steiner Editions, and includes photography by Cynthia Etheridge.

Fire Song
KJ Hannah Greenberg

White wisps, blue tendrils,
Flame yellow kissed
Jewel weed bursts,
Red starred hearts,
Warm, then wane.

Wafting past earthen lances
Advancing only to sing
Where death wrings
Woodland mysteries.

Besot by unplanned grandeur,
Mysteries of blessing
Evade touch and thought,
Mimicking worse moments.

Birds nest where lives,
Beaten down, slip
Alone among reserves.
Temple records, only,
Remember our remorse.

Biography Note:

KJ Hannah Greenberg gave up all manner of academic hoopla to chase a hibernaculum of imaginary hedgehogs and to raise children. Blessed to be the parent of two girls and two boys, three of whom are raging through their teen years, and one of whom is threatening to spring from preadolescence, Hannah discovered, (all things being unequal) that it is both more rewarding and more difficult to raise children than to instruct thousands of college students on the nuances of human interactions.

Her poetry has appeared in numerous international venues, including: Joyful!, Ken*Again, Language and Culture Magazine, Literary Mama, Poetry Super Highway, Scribblers on the Roof, Tertulia Magazine, The Externalist, The Mother Magazine, The Shine Journal, The New Vilna Review, and Unfettered Verse.

Drowning In Pairs
Kyle Hemmings

You're carrying your puppy
past the skunk cabbage and poke berries,
the one with the terminal condition
a missing branch off the heart,
you'd give her yours
but you're only a girl
with damaged blood supply,
a pink shell of a heart
at times
a loss of pulse
a pulse-less unaccountable sea.

You gently hold her above the brook
that reflects the aspens and cassias
the deep blue maddening of the sky.
Damn God. And damn his shunted creations.
You swore you'd never get this close
to such a creature in need.
Your plan is to drown her,
but the thought of bubbles
stirring, clamoring to the surface
and your own reflection
you'll try hard to avoid
and you know
you'll be drowning

Biography Note:

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey, where he skateboards and sometimes falls and can't get up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Issue #9

Two Poems by Holly Day

Hand-Written Vows

I will, she says, I will
Lose it one of these days, some day
When the dishwasher breaks, when
The kids get sick, when
I get yelled at because you’ve had a hard day at work. I will lose it
And that’ll be it, I will
Pull out the suitcase I have
Hidden under the bed, the tight roll of twenties
Stashed in my jewelry box
All the phone numbers and addresses of relatives
That haven’t seen me since I was single
And I’ll be gone

The Button in the Garage

when the toaster has a brain
and the chair has a heartbeat
and the microwave
knows my schedule through the day
is it assault
to turn off the power
is it murder
to shut the house down for the night?
when the car knows
where I live
and the garage
recognizes my car
does that count as friendship?
is it divorce
when I trade my old car in for a new one
is it torture
for the garage to have to learn
a new face?

Biography Note:

Holly Day is a travel writing instructor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. Her most recent nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Walking Twin Cities.

Flash Fiction by Katie Moore

My Boyfriend and Catwoman

My boyfriend has an imaginary friend. I’ve always been attracted to eccentric artsy types but it’s getting a little ridiculous now. It’s almost like having a hovering mother in law. He has to stop and ask her what she thinks about every little thing, from the grocery list to the day’s schedule.

“How do you feel about Mexican for dinner, Catwoman?”

“Which movie do you want to see this week, Catwoman?”

“Wait, Jamie, we can’t go yet, she’s still lacing up her boots.”

Yeah, his imaginary friend is Catwoman. Not Michelle Pfeiffer, Eartha Kitt, or any of the other actresses who played Catwoman in movies or on TV, but the actual comic book vixen herself. His version is skinnier, younger, and even more naked of course. She never leaves his side. I’ve even heard him talking to her in the shower, soothing her hurt feelings after she witnessed our lovemaking…How…how, weird!

It used to make me giggle. I thought he was pretending. That lasted for a few weeks. I’m easily blinded by a shaggy haired musician with quirks. When I figured out that he never stopped pretending I was intrigued. I wondered if he saw her as a drawing, lying next to him on the couch whispering her preferences into his ear, or if she looked like a real girl when he…imagined her. Did she have big fake breasts or was she more natural? When I asked him he said they were covered in black vinyl, like her face, duh…

I assume that means he isn’t having a sexual relationship with his feline female friend, though I have heard him mutter, “Tease,” under his breath while wearing a particularly pained expression, and I know he isn’t talking about me. I’m fucking a guy with an imaginary friend, after all.

Biography Note:

Katie Moore is a mother, writer, and that order. Sorry, husband. She is completely unfit for "real" work, as all she ever does is scribble. Her fiction and poetry appears here and there, but she enjoys being vague. Most of her time is spent as a devoted editor for The Legendary, a place where weirdos put their best words.

Pinching Pennies
Sue Ellis

On a summer morning we head out to
the back yard. I've got the scissors and
comb, he's carrying a plastic lawn chair.

In the shade of the lilacs, I sit in the
chair. He does a warm-up with the
scissors, slicing air into ribbons while a
magpie tugs at my shoelaces.

He's learned to shape, not shingle, with
hands more suited to hammers. We visit
about everything and nothing. Easy and
hard. My scalp tingles at his touch.

When he's finished, I brush off my shirt
and thank him. The haircut will be good
enough. Then I notice that the neighbor
has seen us from a vantage point beyond
the raspberry canes.

I wonder how the observer interpreted
our geriatric still life, if he could fathom
chemical sensitivity, how I can't visit
hairdressers now.

I doubt he sees the patient man who cuts
my hair, and makes plain soap for me.
Or gets how water, lye, and oil saponify,
merging into something pure. He
probably thinks we're pinching pennies.

Biography Note:

Sue Ellis is a retired postmaster from Spokane, Washington. Her short stories and poetry have been previously published in various online venues including Dead Mule, Flash Me Magazine, Six Sentences, Camroc Press Review and Ken Again. She has also appeared at Birmingham Arts Journal and SpokeWrite, a local writers' journal.

The Bard’s Shirt
Aleathia Drehmer

It is stained with organic ginger beer
near the buttons, a faded dribble
that lept from loose lips that act as anchors.

Saffron edges curl at the neck,
a blessing from the Rinpoche
with vows taken to live in the middle.

In the glass, the cream linen
lies old and nearly transparent
against the contrast of hot skin

steeped in the shower, nipples
colored like berries in summer,
flat beneath the fabric.

Pleased, I stare at myself
and begin to think, if I were a man,
would I like this kind of mystery?

An almost tangible outline of breast,
the sternum’s valley cast in shadow,
thoughts about the skin’s smell,

its taste upon the tongue, and then
deny it to myself, grinning, knowing
the imagination depends on what

cannot be seen.

Biography Note:

Aleathia Drehmer is happy. She is the Editor of a print micro-zine called Durable Goods and the Special Editions Editor for Zygote in my Coffee. Her work has been published in fine journals and magazines, both online and in print, such as: Ottawa Arts Review, Word Riot, The Cerebral Catalyst, Flutter, Laura Hird, Silence Press, Nibble, Munyori Poetry Journal, and Hobo Camp Review. She has had two small collections of poetry published at Kendra Steiner Editions called “Thickets of Mayapple” and “Circles”. Her forthcoming full collection called “Empty Spaces” will be in a book shared with Dan Provost published by Tainted Coffee Press. Her previously published work can be viewed here:

Two Poems by Anne Brooke


Keep the dagger bright,
grease its shining metal
to cure the wound
and lay it across
the sick man’s bed.
Such a sympathetic salve
might bury a scar
deep in the earth
if you let it.

A recipe for marital harmony

Bow-tie tying’s
a private thing
that man must do alone;
just like the space
his wife requires
whenever she’s on the phone.

Biography Note:

Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition. Her latest novel is The Bones of Summer, a romantic thriller about religion, murder and the chance for a new beginning. More information can be found at and she keeps a terrifyingly honest journal at

Sun God Poet
Karolina Manko

Every poet is a spark,
But you are a full-fledged fire.
Flame body dancing,
Hypnotized by the rhythm of the ancients.
You are limbs composed of
The licks of charring oaks and cedars.
Your insides erupt in volcanic proportions,
Leaving the rest of you matter blackened.
You are systematic and predictable,
You are impulsive yet controllable,
Self illuminating and self blinding.
You are blessed flint,
Rubbing and vexing your skin
In hope of conquering the darkness of illiteracy.
But sometimes the intensity of your intensity
Squelches the sparks of every other living thing around you.
Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.
But tell me, boy…
Which one among you will bury the sun?
Is there one brave enough?

Biography Note:

Karolina Manko is a current sophomore at The City College of New York where she is an English Literature major with a concetration in Secondary Education. She writes poems mostly for the stage, focusing on Spoken Word (or Slam Poetry) as her main medium for artistic expression. She greatly enjoys performing her poetry locally and hopes to one day tour the country with her spoken word creations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Issue #8

Two Poems by Felino Soriano

Painters’ Exhalations 371
—after Edmunds Lucis’ The Hunter

Hands, hefty thickness,
innate skeletal construction, forthcoming
unaltered scope, target-escape
unlikely demeanor. Head
an extraordinary still. Eyes
roam in oscillating fashion,
ambulate into distance of
ascertaining ignorant prey.
Senses, serial in gradating
grace, the armor of attack
untouched by the runners
into swallowing, devastating

Painters’ Exhalations 375
—after Dale Grimshaw’s Window to the Soul

Copacetic cliché
bound to the language-fib
belief sans empirical
clothing. Soul window
stained, hummingbird wing
apparatus visual disbelief
holding value in a vernacular
staircase leading into unknown
regions of philosophical inquiry.
Soul, existent, or, a fabrication
of structural design
waving eastwest among the
wind’s weight delegated to
construct formational harmony.

Biography Note:

Felino A. Soriano (b. 1974, California) is a case manager and advocate for developmentally and physically disabled adults. He edits/publishes Counterexample Poetics,, an online journal of experimental artistry, and Differentia Press,, dedicated to publishing e-chapbooks of experimental poetry. As a poet, he has authored ten collections of poetry, including Among the Interrogated (BlazeVOX [books], 2008), Search among the Absent Found (Recycled Karma Press, 2009), and r (please press, 2009). The internal collocation of philosophical studies and love of classic and avant-garde jazz is the explanation for his poetic stimulation. Details are at his website,

Two Poems by Gary Beck

Ode to Dave Dawson and Freddie Farmer

I remember your books
blighting my childhood lust for learning,
reading you over and over,
when nothing else was left.
You were always winning;
sometimes wounded, but always winning.
Vacuum sealed for freshness, inventive,
heroic, resourceful, and always winning.
The Japs, the Jerries, so easily defeated,
you would have even beaten the commies,
but I grew up, ending your wars.
Today a man,
I smile your asinine morality
that rooted in my child’s mind
and wonder what you did for fun
after crushing the enemy.

Crash Landing

After moon set
wing tips lost in darkness
flickering lights at 30,000 feet
transit the airborne traveler.
Centuries below
clouds pitter patter
little girl toes
digging in the sand.
The endangered bird
flails the air,
hiccups an octopus explosion
that frees the stewardess,
rigid smile waxed in place,
offers coffee, tea, chocolate,
as the last hand gropes blindly,
veins surfacing in the pantry,
reaching for survival.

Biography Note:

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook 'Remembrance' was published by Origami Condom Press and 'The Conquest of Somalia' was published by Cervena Barva Press. A collection of his poetry 'Days of Destruction' has been published in 2009 by Skive Press. Another collection 'Expectations' is being published by Rogue Scholars Press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. He currently lives in New York City , where he's busy writing. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines.

Two Poems by Mark Jackley


Soon she moved to Baton Rouge,
where lost souls washed up
from New Orleans, some of whom
perhaps would also greet the day
clutching their ribs, bobbing
tearfully as morning
bled into the bedroom like a slow,
quiet flood of words.


the drunken fifty-year-old
carpenter who leans against
the chain-link fence puking his guts out after hurling
his whiskey bottle
through the living room window and
the slumping telephone
cable above him burdened by the weight of all those angry,
tearful and inadequate words
yet defying gravity,
held up by the strength
of something hard and splintered,
teetering and weathered, shit upon for years,
made by calloused hands
much like his

Jeffrey S. Callico

Harbingers of delight these skeptics.
Forms shift upon dark piano benches.
Lovers crawl on shards,
Their droplets red reminders of rage.
No one knows why and so they stay
Alive, lights dotting skylines, muddy faces
Caked like bricks; even a mist cannot console.
Swallows crash to pavement, wings
Sudden displays of terror, undergrowth of night.
All warnings exhausted, legs running out:
Space left for nothing, tender shoots frail as death.

Biography Note:

Jeffrey S. Callico has been featured in several online literary journals, including FRiGG, Johnny America, Dispatch, Origami Condom and Full of Crow. His collection of short fiction, Fighting Off The Sun: Stories, Tales, and Other Matters of Opinion, is available on Amazon. He can be reached at

Who Cut The Cheese
Peter Magliocco

Fart jokes plug your nostrils
with smells of urban pollution
in the key of broken violin strings
sounding like zippers snapping off
faces of the dead Mandalay Bay chorus
assaulted by jokes of a suicide bomber
barfing out punch lines with sickening zeal
somebody tells you the world ended
yesterday after you received a cell call
giving you pinkeye forever

That's when your girlfriend materialized
with duct-taped nipples
from back issues of Smut Today

lit with a match
behind that rectal gas


Biography Note:

Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada. He has poetry at THE SMOKING POET, A HUDSON VIEW POETRY DIGEST, THE BEAT, HEELTAP, THE BLUE HOUSE and elsewhere... His new novel is The Burgher of Virtual Eden from Publish America ( He was Pushcart nominated for poetry in 2008.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Issue #7

Two Poems by Joanna Valente

She Was An Awkward, Quiet Child

What are you saying? I asked. She spoke

so gently across the table as though forks

& spoons would curl & glasses would splinter.

I'm talking to my unicorn, he says he likes you;

she seemed affronted I could not see anything

other than an empty seat next to her, where

her father used to be. Is he hungry, does he want

to eat anything? I asked almost amused, but not quite.

He doesn't eat people food, most of it makes him

sick, except peas. I gave him some of mine.

Laughing, I cleared away our plates & ran them

under hot water knowing she was better than I.

The Regular

He was eating. The waitress poured coffee

into his cup, tenderly falling homeward

some streaming onto the saucer, ringing around.

There were coffee rings on the end table in his

mother's house. His father didn't give a damn about

furniture, not when it couldn't scream from beneath

the weight of all the books. Moscow

was just like North Carolina, all of it furniture

furniture from your aunt & uncle, furniture

waiting outside on the curb

to be picked up by women, not girls. Fritz, is this

going to be it? the waitress asked like he was

her father (who moved out with a

young girl almost her age.) He was surprised

that Fritz was still his name, it hadn't changed

like his body shrinking (could it one day

be gone? like the snowman he made at eight

before they moved.) No, that will be it, he said, indefinitely.

Biography Note:

Joanna Valente lives in New York, and is currently completing her bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and Literature. She has been published in various magazines and one upcoming anthology from Uphook Press. A few of her favorite things include the smell of library books, museums and the ocean. She can be found at her blog:

The Sunflowers' Roar
Sandy Benitez

In the cutting garden,
sunflowers tilt their faces
towards the sun. Wait for
the shock of heat to
awaken their lazy limbs.

Black eyes steal glances
behind golden manes;
once outrageous and wild,
tousled from the bi-polar wind
as The Scorpions' Rock me Like
a Hurricane whips by
from an aging radio.

With a roar, they proclaim
their strength to the alert
ears of corn in the field
and the crows who fly in formation,
cawking curses in unison.

Maybe this time, the lady
of the house will take notice
and carry them far away--
to the porch, the dining table,
or even the farmer's market.

Anywhere but here,
where time buries its head
in the dirt among the seeds
and purring has become
an afterthought.

Biography Note:

Sandy's poetry has appeared in over 85 print and online poetry journals such as Words-Myth, Falling Star Magazine, Chantarelle's Notebook, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Orange Room Review, Elimae, Lily, and Loch Raven Review. Sandy resides in Wyoming with her two hyper children and darling husband. Her first book of poetry, Ever Violet, by DN Publishing is available by contacting the author at

Two Poems by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Clock Ticking

This fit of time
to squeeze us
into a whimper of submission,
with its snake head,
bear's body,
vulture claws,
underdeveloped wings.

Wiggle loose...
Fight back with the vastness of our numbers.

Tomorrow is already here.

Turn Of The Night Runner

Run me into the ground.
Sit on my back, spreading your legs,
huffing from the chase
I let you win.

Pull my hairy head back.
Slit my throat with your fingernail.
Watch me pour
heat into the wilting grass.

I roar with the beasts
you've saddled in the past,
except I created the fire
within the whisk of your existence.

Biography Note:

Stephen Jarrell Williams' poetry has recently appeared in Aphelion, Fissure Magazine, Hungur, Liquid Imagination, Mirror Dance, Tales From The Moonlit Path, and Scifaikuest.

John Grey

Late Spring, chilly Canadian backlash.

The forest’s up in arms,

thin wind-shaken limbs,

with buds about to burst.

Pollen freezes in the air.

The hungry lose their appetite

to flakes of snow.

The frog’s croak is a bitter one.

Brown ponds shudder with ice.

Chickadees bite down on their mating calls,

huddle in the prickly brush.

Once more, survival trumps nest building.

The change came and then it didn’t.

The landscape fell for an ancient trick.

The thaw was a lie, insatiably believed.

The air grows cold. The faith grows colder still.

Biography Note:

John Grey has been published in the Georgetown Review, Connecticut Review, South Carolina Review and The Pedestal. He also has work upcoming in Poetry East and The Pinch.

Porn of the Dead

The only way to to tell the living,
those sitting there watching
news reports, from those that return home,
laid to rest, is a slight movement
of the chest. But watching
somehow it makes all less real,
and something not to be mentioned
when queuing in the Post Office
like watching porn in the afternoon;
curtains drawn.

It’s all about dying,
and dying a good death.
Praise be
a climax
between clean white cotton sheets
and the money shot final breath;
cut to a blissful smile …

The fluffers
and the spin swingers
can carry a flag beautifully,
(practice makes perfect)
and with clipboards and Biros
count body bags
like used condoms
wrapped in Union Jacks
and call it glory.

Pass the tissues.

Biography Note:

P.A.Levy hides in the heart of Suffolk countryside (UK) learning the lost arts of hedge mumbling and clod watching. He is an original member of the Clueless Collective ( and has been in many publications.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Issue #6

Three Poems by Amanda Boschetto


i too dream of the children's deaths
and all of Africa's sky is filled with hunger
pain still holds the weapon of anxiety
the real war is inside me

a letter to some black boy with only one arm
he writes of hope and somewhere half around
the world there is tears and guilt embedded
in the alphabet

the burning sun sets and lions feed on laughing
hyenas, vultures of fun and in the eyes of
a missionary, cutting God out of the land, forgotten
and our crimes are obesity, money, greed
life's undying need we tell us

as Africa continues to bleed

night trace

the trees are hungover, drained of all
the snow its branches must carry
and cancer is stuck on the icy milky way
this bleak season where light must suffer
my nerves on my face are frozen and i try to
stretch them with my palm but nothing but
blood comes out

there is frost in my heart, taken from your
illusion of heaven and it rains skulls from
my own cheap hell, words and worlds are
fictional things, like an illness in the broken wind
you are gone but like a ghost you
move in my tired nights, i count the feathers
fallen behind your instant trace but you're still...

...slipping away

the maddest tree

night's maddest tree is a bore to
the suicides that surround it,
its leaves smother the ground

large and heavy orgasms lick the
roads clean,
like snow flakes gone insane
and it rains frogs from the sky

the tree agrees with winter, with
its silly death spread to everything
even the yawning roots
that love forgot

and on a clear day i can see the
rape that the tree does to every
ray of sunlight
everything's broken within me

Biography Note:

Amanda Boschetto lives in Sweden. She has one chapbook with deadbeatpress and one forthcoming with epic rites in 2010 as well a couple of poems in a few zines. She has facebook at;

The Shredder
Kenneth Pobo

Jezziaro’s Used Cars has

a today-only sale on vans.

Super-size your car, the ad says.

We nail our kids into activity schedules.

After Internet porn, chat rooms,

and Google, we watch the latest

metroplex movie--about a terrorist

who works at Burger King, poisons our fries,

gets away with murder. Home again,

we shred trash which reveals

information about us, turn the lock,

steady ourselves with the TV’s glow.

Biography Note:

Kenneth Pobo had a book of poems published in 2008 from WordTech Press called Glass Garden . His online chapbook, Crazy Cakes, also came out in 2008 and can be accessed at http// Kenneth's chapbook, “Trina and the Sky,” won the 2009 Main Street Rag chapbook contest.

Catch Ken’s radio show, “Obscure Oldies,” at on Saturdays from 6-8pm EST.

Iris Odonata

Mom's in the basement,

tidying up the secrets,

double-checking inventory.

Dad's in the pantry,

tallying up his markers,

counting with a rosary.

Sister's pulling straight-A's,

fiddling with her violin,

playing at being au pair.

And me? Sitting in corner,

just seen, not heard,

awaiting ripening to share.

Biography Note:

Iris has logged 30k hours in hands-on healing work. Iris wrote her first poem at nine. A staunch advocate of mirth, Iris laughs belly laughs daily as exercise against becoming too serious. Iris invites inspiration with all her senses from a multi-universe.

Two Poems by Ben Nardolilli

Under Certain Conditions

The smokestack and the whole poisonous family

Belching away at the sky, with no apology,

To end to the dirty painting and the muted singing,

Can make you think, what was here before,

What was lost for this gain?

The bottles on the shore with black water inside

And burnt-out cigarettes, messages

From those stranded a shore away,

You look at them and wonder if the waves

Had any idea they were moving anything polluting,

Like the backs of rats giving free rides to flees.

The strip mall was a functional emporium,

You know that, but still, you ask out loud

Because the muzak gives you the freedom of the muzzle,

Why it could not look at least a bit different

From the one you passed by down the road.

But the rose that opens up like your lover’s face,

In the middle of the field with every stalk in its place,

And the sky holding no storm in its canopy,

With every thorn a perfect aquiline, and the petals

Right in their number, the color of moving blood,

You are quiet, you understand, you have no more questions.

A Spring Enclosed

How could I have avoided you,

All those years in Catholic school

And you were so pale,

Pale as the virgin, and those

Who surrounded her, and like them

Your dark hair flowing down your head

Made for a convenient veil,

And when all you let me see

Was your neck and ankles,

You expected me to think of you

As someone just in it for the money?

No, you pretended to be his bride,

Even though you did not believe

He was heaven sent, or in heaven itself,

But when I found out you had not made

A home in any man’s bed, I told you

The black was no longer necessary,

And that you could cut your hair,

Tan your skin, you were clean of heart,

Even if you said your mouth had kissed the streets.

Biography Note:

Ben Nardolilli is a twenty three year old writer currently living in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Houston Literary Review, Perigee Magazine, Canopic Jar, Lachryma: Modern Songs of Lament, Baker’s Dozen, Thieves Jargon, Farmhouse Magazine, Elimae, Poems Niederngasse, Gold Dust, The Delmarva Review, Underground Voices Magazine, SoMa Literary Review, Heroin Love Songs, Shakespeare’s Monkey Revue, Cantaraville, and Perspectives Magazine. In addition, he was the poetry editor for West 10th Magazine at NYU and maintains a blog at

Oh, please. They didn’t sneak into the country to be your friends.
-Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development.

Paul Handley

The largesse involved in making friends

is offset by, well, having friends.

My balance sheet overrunneth with credits.

Thank you cards a must, especially

a thank you for a thank you,

so as to keep on the ledger’s best side.

Terms of contacts and networking gather warmth,

when congeal beneath a layer of loyalty.

Admiration of political ideas while impractical

and lack principle, allow me to be part

of a panorama of you, and me,

a bar, or restaurant and the aura of your success

and blandly handsome anchor man looks,

to friends of others who want to walk onto the set.

Only ones I trust are from before I fall

or have success and I have had both,

and even before I had both, I kinda had both.

Biography Note:

Paul Handley spent a career as a student and a student of odd jobs. He has an MA, an MPA, and is ABD. He has driven a cab and sold meat door-to-door. Paul has work included or forthcoming in Anemone Sidecar, Apollo’s Lyre, Boston Literary Magazine, The Shine Journal, and others.

Justin Ehrlich

Indifferent eyes burn with cruel

Restraint, calculating malign

Designs; unstirred by Golden rule.

Her icy fingers hold a shrine…

My queen of suffering presents

A coruscating crown of thorns

While whispering sweet sentiments;

Stigmata kisses reign forlorn.

Snowflakes pulse vellum arteries.

She tastes the shapes of altered states,

Adrift in abstract quiddities.

In reverence before her gates:

I took a sparkling razorblade

And tore my flesh with vigorous

Calligraphy: a serenade

To my eternal Dolores.

Unveiling my ripped, ravaged chest

I proudly flaunt the spoils of love.

She ordered I expunge my breast

With acid, and a kitchen glove.

The brittle diamonds of despair

Fall flippantly from out my tongue.

Responding with a solar-flare

From the inferno of her lung:

‘One day I’ll push you to the skirt

Of reason; snapping sanity

Unleashes rage, repressed, inert:

You’ll strangle my last breath from me…

Through placid wreaths of floral smoke

I spied psychosis in your eyes;

Amidst the verdant words you spoke,

I heard a buzzing plague of flies.’

Nails oxidized by pity pierce

Emaciated flesh in tuned

Compliant silence. My last tierce

Of famished pride drains from each wound.

Forsaken on this crucifix,

The desert sun swarms blistered bone:

I thirst for vinegar-laced lips!

My vulture goddess long has flown.

Biography Note:

Justin Ehrlich was born in 1985. He holds honours in philosophy and learned to appreciate the aesthetic of a theory over and above significance. His poetry has been published online in Pens on Fire, The-Beat, Ancient Heart, Gloom Cupboard, and The Recusant.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Issue #5

Two Poems from William Doreski

Tortilla Soup

Watching you brew tortilla soup
in the bathtub amazes me.
A tray of tortillas, two heads
of cabbage, a dozen carrots,
a slew of potato pancakes,
fish heads, carrots, and beef shanks—

and then you run the hot water
and stir with a softball bat.
The muscles in your lean arms creak
You grunt as the mixture slathers red
when you pour in Tabasco sauce
and salsa. A few sheep lungs

fried in lard. Parboiled mushrooms,
psychedelic. A bucket or two
of corn chips. When the soup looks grim
as the drainage of an abattoir
you ladle it into kettles
to cook on the range for a day

or two before you serve bowlfuls
to each of the bristling men
you’ve loved. While you feed
and flatter your lapsed paramours
I inspect the empty bathtub.
I’m impressed by the residue,

thick as a layer of napalm.
The men cough blood after eating
their first bowl, spit bone and gristle
after their second. Their breath
smells brutal as an afterbirth,
and they belch with justified pride.

A Single Gray Tone

The day strikes a single gray tone—
detail elided by snowfall
hovering like a frozen breath.

I want to solve the books I love
not by reading but pressing them
against my chest until the words

bleed from my pores and dehydrate
the creature that has haunted me
a lifetime. Instead, I’ll shovel

both the snow and myself into grief
of misplaced priorities like
a government gone bad. They say

not everything is politics—
but the heart attack that drops me
into a comfortable drift

will delete one vote from the sea
of democracy rising even
as global warming melts the ice caps.

The snow falls daintily as scripture
in the daydreams of a prophet.
I can’t say what it codifies,

not being prophetic as I’d like—
but surely all that symmetry
competes with the finest alphabets.

I settle in my straight-backed chair
and keep an eye on the window
in case the color shifts. Sunday

in February always means snow
no matter how the brass organs
protest. Too bad for the church,

where few parishioners will show;
but the two apple trees out front
will fill with waxwings plucking

last autumn’s frostbitten fruit—
and the silence of their devotion
will atone for the featureless light.

Biography Note:

William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge. For a link:


a passing car illumines his sweat and anything else to which it briefly attaches …
he slops whiskey petulantly, her glittering eye crossing his at random; disassociated

her washed hair separating with relinquished repugnance as he scratches stark naked, scrunching animal hair and rubbing his sticky sacs with peacock exhibitionism

the dark creeps with furtive phrases as she stares into the full length mirror - a fugitive,
before simian shadows conceal her
and thick paws crawl with
grunting chants.

Biography Note:

A.D.Hitchin is a poetry and prose writer published extensively in small press and independent journals including ‘Blaze VOX‘, ‘Ditch’ and ‘Dogmatika’. His 'The Holy Hermaphrodite’ chapbook has recently been released by Shadow Archer Press. You can catch newly updated experiments at: and

Two Poems by Barry Basden

Morning Walk

I walk in the old cemetery near my house,
away from what little traffic and noise
there is here. I used to get up early enough
to watch the sun rise--north of a distant
hill in summer and way south of the empty
factory during the winter. These days I

tend to walk a little later. Usually I take
the dogs, but they are always so joyfully into
the Now, that today, on this crisp spring
morning, I've come alone. I don't remember
the crepe myrtles being this heavy with bloom.
A black cat darts among the headstones and

catches me up. Farther along, when I stop
on a shady path near the back gate, I hear
the wind--or is it murmuring from a grave
that gives me this shiver? I turn around as
if called and see beneath an old oak a
granite stone, slightly tilted, that reads

I'd rather be standing
where you are

Retirement Haven

This place was selected one
of the five best retirement
havens in the world by a glossy
magazine full of color photographs.

I visited there once and drove
through the countryside past a
grand house where a balding man
with a gray pony tail stood yelling
at men working in his garden.

Down the road, near a hillside fragrant
with coffee blooms, I passed a row of
tin-roofed huts next to a river. Women
washed clothes in the muddy current
while men sat in doorways and
sharpened gleaming machetes.

The flowers are lovely this time
of year, and the coffee is fine.

Biography Note:

Barry Basden writes mostly short pieces these days. Some have been published in various online venues. Some have not. He is co-author of CRACK! AND THUMP: WITH A COMBAT INFANTRY OFFICER IN WORLD WAR II, and edits Camroc Press Review at

One Breath
Junie Moon

Grey mist under purple sky,
twilights prelude, ink dots

merge, swell,
trickle down, sealing out
traces of day; shadows

exhale; silhouettes dance
’cross cosmic dust

Time banished,
hours erased,
grandfather keeping time
like a metronome

hazy fog, vapors, feathery
mirage, rising up
filling an empty room;
murmurs, seductive

gentle whispers; obscuring stealthy
cowards, hiding a
hypnotic prophecy,

unleashed in darkness...
abyss; mystical, insistent

collage of images
through cellophane
changing colors;
heart beats
listless, laden;
no heroic salutations;

transparent illusions, counterfeit
memories …voluminous darkness;
seductive, mesmerizing;

no borders, no boundaries;
no guarantees;
reality distorted, spiraling
in inner space,
life lay silent in one breath,
death lay silent in the next

Biography Note:

Junie Moon's work has appeared in Eat a Peach, Poe Little Thing, Black River Press, Down in the Dirt, Dogma Publication, Poetic Hours, Sage of Consciousness, The Persistent Mirage, Poetry Today, Black Book Press, the anthology ‘Lives of Artists’ compiled by Melanie M. Eyth, The Pink Chameleon, to name a few.

When I’m Horny and Suicidal
Steve Calamars

I play hacky-sack with
hand-grenades and lust
after land-mines strutting
in stilettos and fishnet

I chug molotov cocktails
and swallow cyanide
parading down my throat
in strip-teases and

I wink at hourglass-
shaped 357s and
catch bullets beneath
my eyelids . . .

Biography Note:

Steve Calamars lives in San Antonio, TX. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and works in a grocery store. When he is not working or sleeping, he writes (mainly prose). The stuff he writes can be found in bottle rockets, Chiron Review, Harpur Palate, Zygote in My Coffee and other places he won’t bore you with. He can be found in

Loren Fay

Bow down upon this severe bend.
Bones wither & do not mend.
On thy hand’s & knee’s..
Oh, I bleed my blood for thee.
Dearth, I tuck thou heart under the sea.
Cover the beating sound beneath the
Brackish waves.
Universal solvent, dissolve my broken lungs.
You do me no good, stranger of the months.
Beetle brown eyes pollute my ocean blues.
Dig away at my frightened charm,
I veil my battered pain.
My poise vanished during your perfect masquerade.
Who would sweep away a girl in an unending weep?

Biography Note:

Loren Fay was born in London, England and moved to America for schooling in Wisconsin and Florida when she was a young child. She is currently attending college in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Her major is Creative Writing and Poetics. She is currently in the process of writing a set of epic fictional novels, to be published one day soon. She has two blogs of which she posts on rather frequently. The first is titled '& as of now..', which contains much of her poetic works, mixed amongst some short stories as well. Loren Fay's second blog shares her journey with the world as she embarks on writing her novel(s). This blog is titled 'In the making- By: Loren Fay'. She picked up her talent and passion for writing by accident as she was a teachers assistant to a creative writing teacher. Since that fated semester of high school, writing has become a none stop passion for Loren Fay. She has been published in the St. Pete times, numerous literary magazines, and won the award for writer of the year in 2007 from her high school.

The Odds
Lucy Walters

I’ll go to Vegas for a day-
I’ll beat the house,
And triple figure fruits
Will roll down gold
From double tasseled breast
And glittering thighs.
Domed palaces where
Plush carpets roll
Like Savannah plains,
And despair and glee
Lie mischievous lovers
Side on side
Of a shiny coin.
I’d cheat death for just one happy day
Of life where odds are 12 to 1,
Lap at a bowl of bluffing games,
If only for just one
Tiny taste of light,
Then trudge home,
Broke again, at night.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Featured Poet #3

Seven Poems From Richard Wink

The Retired Lifeboat

The retired lifeboat



overturned like an empty crab shell

surrounded by the chalk

and harsh flint.

Weather beaten the boat’s name

had been reduced to a solitary ‘h’

in lower-case,

the shade of navy blue had faded

to a sheepish turquoise.

The sea touched the lifeboat

permissively surrounding it


In the crude sun

the tide departed without

taking anything


The Piranha could not swim

so he was fitted with wheels,

he spun around the shelf

just above the glass tank that contained

his brother and sisters.

Fresh air did the Piranha good

sure he was a fish out of water

plenty of people pointed that out

before chuckling righteously to themselves

but the Piranha paid no attention to unpleasant jibes,

though he did wonder how he was able to breathe.

His gills contracted and bristled

when irritated by the lazy drift of smoke

that billowed from his keeper’s cigarette

Burlesque Memories

The talent was fresh, simmering in a sterling rimmed champagne glass

I wasn’t sure what we were observing

but when the performance ended

we stood and applauded.

Her model was of immaculate design,

not garish like Van Gogh’s prostitute muse

with downcast sagging droops.

No, this vision was crafted

around the finest bone

I missed the last train

and sat in an all night café

sipping dirt brown coffee.

Why was I involved with the arts?

The Thames,

a river of grey romance

I could not smell.

The Page Turner

When the skin cracked

fingertips became tender

each page turned

causing a flinch

eyes wandered

tears rolled

as the final word

was read


Circumstances swam away as swans,

cowardly legs frantically paddling under water

Tides tickled the South East Coast

causing the North to sneeze

Trinkets sugar coated

diabetic deliberate

brandy flavoured blokes lick

the lollipop hat stand

fields dream beneath metallic covers

magnets spin

a clown’s bow tie

tickling barley humour

The Fox in the Furnace

The Fox in the Furnace

a temper of orange

warming the room

causing feet to surrender snug slippers

The Fox in the Furnace

crackles and sparks

a firefly ember glides over shoulder

catching us by surprise


Tremors shuttle

green blurs in awkward motion

rattling rails

bypassing through mustard fields,

specs of rain

streak windows


Daffodils suffer cramp

their stalks kicked,

crushed, then trampled

by the busy men

They shuffle into the burdened carriages

removing and rolling their coats

stacking coral briefcases into overhead compartments

polite theatrics

the newspapers spread open

like maps of the world

Q@A with Richard Wink

CH: How long have you been writing and why did you start in the first place?

RW: I started writing for kicks when I was sixteen. I discovered a knack for poetry one afternoon; I think it was during some little creative writing exercise that I really gravitated towards the art. No longer was I bored by Charles Dickens or trying to figure out what the heck Onomatopoeia meant. At last something in literature was speaking to me, throwing down a gauntlet.

I consider sixteen to be the age when my life went wrong, and since that point for nearly a decade, through ten years of mistakes and misadventure poetry has been the one constant. Of course it has been glorious attempting to play the ‘tortured’ Rimbaud role, but eventually you sit bolt up, waking up at four in the morning in cold sweats and realize that this is something you have to do for the rest of your life. That I guess is when the bug has bitten you.

For about two years I was writing in secret, which is to say at the time I was ashamed. Poetry was seen as pretentious and without wishing to sound homophobic it was considered to be “poncey”. Growing up with laddish mates who had no real love for the arts, and perhaps their cultural outlook stretched just about to drunken sing-along’s to ‘Wonderwall’ on a Friday night. I guess I was afraid to reveal myself as a poet.

By the time I was eighteen I began to send out submissions and got a couple of poems featured in Print Anthologies. My first published poem was titled ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and was simply about learning to drive. That experience was quite eventful, it took me three attempts to pass the test, and I even failed the theory test once because I came into the testing centre feeling hungover. I recall one lesson occurred on 9/11, the instructor didn’t believe me when I told him about two planes hitting the twin towers. But yeah, I digress. I’m a terrible driver.

Then after getting the taste after those publications I took advantage of the internet, and put together my first chapbook with a publisher in Chicago. The Beehives though not a critical or commercial success got my foot in the door and gave me a bit of confidence. Since then I have managed to produce five more chapbooks, and hopefully later this year, or early next, my first full length collection.

CH: Who or what were your inspirations?

RW: Early on I was heavily influenced by the current poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, her poems about everyday subject matter spoke to me and made me realize that to write poetry you didn’t have to hole yourself away in opium dens. This was a good two or three years before I discovered Bukowski and the Beats, who truly flipped my lid. I’m still only getting started on people like Corso and Snyder, so there is plenty left to discover. I genuinely prefer writers from the States. Anne Sexton and Wallace Stevens are big influences.

A lot of songwriters have influenced me. I especially dig the throwaway nonsense of Stephen Malkmus, the morose heartbreak of Elliott Smith and the genius of Ray Davies. Music is a big deal to me, without it I don’t really think life would be worth living.

CH: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?

RW: Each and every writer is gripped by the struggle between their ego and their own delusions. Obviously the internal duel is in direct conflict with those who read your writing, so whilst at the peak of your powers you are thinking you are the shit, when in fact you could actually be churning out….. shit poetry.

I mentioned utilizing the internet earlier, and this is going to sound rather hypocritical, considering without the internet (a) I wouldn’t be talking to you now and (b) I wouldn’t have networked enough to get publishers from Liverpool to Los Angeles to put out my words.

But I am concerned that a lot of writing gets lost in the void of the World Wide Web. I still think we are in the early stages of online publishing, if indeed you can call it publishing. We need to build up writers, something like this is good, it acts as a showcase, but as an editor of an online zine myself (Gloom Cupboard) I’ve realized that you have a responsibility to make sure the aces don’t get lost in the pack.

Feature writers, try to put them in Print Editions and work with them. Support your local scenes, encourage your contemporaries. Literary movements only happen when people get together and collaborate.

Perhaps the hardest thing about writing is that it can be easy to plough the lone furrow. The role of the outsider is an overstated one. Get out and about, mingle.

CH: What advice would you give to a new writer who is struggling to find his or her identity?

RW: I’m a great believer in writing about what you know. For instance there is no good attempting to write from the perspective of a heroin addict if you fainted after getting a flu vaccination. Stick with what you know, write about what you experience and I don’t think you can go far wrong.

Of course another perspective is that originality is overrated, throughout history artists have ripped liberally from other artists. T.S Elliot plundered from Shakespeare and the
Bible and it didn’t do him much harm. But I guess if you are going to steal, then you better be able to dress it up, if you merely cut and paste then you’ll probably get caught out. Jesus, I guess this is a sign of cultural decline. Advocating plagiarism!

End of Interview


'Apple Road' is available to order from Trainwreck Press

'Delirium is a Disease of the Night' is available to order from Shadow Archer Press

'The Magnificent Guffaw' is available to order from Erbacce Press

You can follow Richard on twitter

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Issue #4

Three Poems by David Whitehouse

Ode to the Tabloids

A serious newspaper will tell you why the next teenage misfit
will dress his teachers in yellow jump suits
before decapitating them with an ornate samurai sword;
but not where or when.
So give me a pinky perky red-top tabloid.
Of a winter's morning I warm my hands on tales of minor celebrity shoplifters,
their speeding trolleys crammed with tracksuits, dog food and flip flops,
and enter competitions to try to win free shopping
to the total value of the theft.

Preservation Society: Blackheath, London

Starbucks will never open in Blackheath
because of the ancient Egyptian kings
who, knowing the evil of iced coffee and muffins,
embalm the place by injunction
they sniffed the evil on the phone
and to their tombs will take dewy chunks of heath,
church brick dust and piano recital sheets
to roam forever across the skies
their servants buried with them,
dead or alive, according to the season
in the British Museum they'll ponder the ancient script
before pausing for cinnamon scones and cappuccino

The Graveyard Shift

Once a woman beat me there.
In the empty newsroom's pre-dawn hour,
her fingers punched the keyboard.
The copy moved, not waiting for me.
Her mother-in-law had come to stay.
There was lots of slack time on the graveyard shift, she said,
enough for her to finish her Pol Pot history book.
I relaxed. Now I had time to watch Gary Glitter,
kiddie-fiddler deported from Asia, touch down live on TV.
The pilot didn't flinch, the plane didn't quiver, as it slid along the wet black tarmac.

Biography Note:

David Whitehouse, who is British, works as a journalist in Paris, where he has lived for 14 years. Previously he lived in Japan. He's married with three children and edits the The Lesser Flamingo ezine, which accepts poetry, flash fiction and short stories. You can find The Lesser Flamingo here.

Three poems by Charles C Brooks III

Gas Station Purgatory

People drone into tiny phones.
Their mouths are ragged metal
that clang
while I'm standing in line.
I'm deaf to everything else
but that clanging
clamoring in.

Their ruckus is a jumble of nonsense
from some relative, friend, TV show.
Sartre’s right
about other people.

This gas station is necessary.
I am stuck,
strangled by lottery tickets.
Beef jerky looks lethal.
There’s a rack of legal
speed for construction workers.
That clanging
is a test.


The waitress is too chipper,
She knows my wife somehow.
Soccer rushes by one television,
another shows stock cars.

The hedges are cut
in rectangles.
The parking lot is clogged
with hybrid cars
that look like Easter eggs.

Dream Casting

On the backs of pine beetles
burrowed beneath dense
tree bark
this journey is hidden.

The bedroom window’s hairline cracks
turn streetlights into muted prisms.
In the parking lot below,
talk of pancakes and bar fights.
I’m somewhere between it
and sleep, finally drifting off.

Next morning hands
cupped around coffee, I sit
a fresh persona.
Bare feet feel alive
on this hardwood floor.
Dust sparkles,
sifts, and settles.

Biography Note:

Charles Clifford Brooks III is a poet and freelance writer living in Georgia, USA. He was inducted into the National Creative Society as a Master Member his senior year at Shorter College. There he also obtained a BS in History\Political Science with a minor in English Literature. Along with his creative endeavors, he also contributes articles to three magazines and a newspaper. Charles Clifford has been published in over 40 magazines, 3 anthologies, and printed in five foreign countries. He is currently Poetry Editor for Literary Magic Magazine. Ghost Shadow Press picked up his first book of poetry “Whirling Metaphysics”.

Three poems by Hal Sirowitz

Bad at Friendships

Mother said I’d be better off if I

let her pick who to become friends with.

I don’t have much luck at it.

Friendships are supposed

to last a lifetime. Mine last a week.

That doesn’t bode well for marriage.

My wife is supposed to be my friend.

But if I’m incapable of making friends

with men, how am I going to make

them with women? It’s the same concept,

just a different sex. But I shouldn’t worry.

She’ll be my wife’s friend. And a friend

of hers is automatically a friend of mine.

The End of Blame

Father made a yearly pilgrimage

to his parents’ graves. He said if

his family got along better, they’d

all be buried close together and he

wouldn’t feel guilty about not visiting

his dead relatives. All he knows

is they’re buried somewhere nearby.

He figured he could pray for them, too,

since they’re in the vicinity. But it’s

hard to put fervor in a prayer when

you’re not sure what the people

you’re praying for look like. He

remembers how his Aunts and Uncles

looked when they were young.

Then his father got sick, his Uncles

ran the factory, and his father’s

coat business flopped. Everyone

blamed everyone else. They were

too busy blaming the other to visit.

They did it on the phone.

The Effects of Bagels

Mother didn’t keep a kosher home.

She wanted us to be free to use any fork

we desired. Out of respect for her father,

she would use plastic silverware when

he came over for brunch. She’d send

me to the bakery to get challhah

We weren’t very religious, but we

lived in a town where you could buy bagels.

And that gave grandfather hope. He’d pray

that eating Jewish food would eventually

accomplish what he couldn’t, make us more Jewish.

Biography Note:

Hal Sirowitz is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York. His last collection of poetry is called 'Father Said' (Soft Skull Press).

April Fool’s Day in Boston
Francis Raven

The pale that came after the impale of winter.
A slight greening on the edges of distance.
Yet, ice in the pockmarks.
The scouring that Spring cleaning is supposed to
Take advantage of
And simultaneously
Erase the traces of.
In keeping with civilization

There is a doubt that things
Left to their own leaves
Will ever amount to anything
But the next season.
And yet, the knife is removed
On slender feet, evaporating
In quick crystals’
Neighborhood expansion plan.

Biography Note:

Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple University. His books include 5-Haifun: Of Being Divisible (Blue Lion Books, 2008), Shifting the Question More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007), Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005) and the novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005). Francis lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website here:

Isaiah Vianese

The smell of bacon, fried eggs,
and brewed coffee.

Hunters and old men have gathered
at the greasy spoon to warm their stomachs

before spending hours in the cold,
some to shovel last night’s snow fall,

knock icicles from the gutters,
and others to sit high in the trees

with a rifle, essence of deer piss
spread on the trunk below.

The waitress keeps their cups warm
between buttering toast, working the register,

yelling orders to the cook
through the little window.

By eight, they will be gone to their work
their play, and she can have a cigarette,

but for now they keep her running,
raising their mugs for more.

Biography Note:

Isaiah Vianese is author of the chapbook, Stopping on the Old Highway (recycled karma press, 2009). He grew up in upstate New York, and currently lives in Missouri.